There’s no doubt that in the last year, social media has exploded in the sports industry, with superstars from different sports joining platforms like Twitter and Facebook to interact with their fans. However, there has almost been as much negative noise about athletes using social media as there has been positive.
Although it may seem like a beat up topic for some, social media, especially in sports is still a fairly new phenomenon. PR crews do the best they can to educate and teach, but Twitter and Facebook were made to encourage open sharing for common-folk, not basketball all stars with paparazzi waiting to analyze their every character and Twitpic.
Simply put, it can be extremely hard for a professional athlete to fully grasp what should or not be said online, even with professional PR aid on the side. Athletes are passionate and emotional, and that’s what makes sports so interesting, but there are grey lines that ought not to be crossed, especially when an athlete is venting and just wants to be heard. I’m not trying to discourage authenticity, but as an athlete, (aka public figure) there are certain rules to play by (ie. – explicit swearing is generally a no-no).
This is where I believe social networks that promote exclusivity can help. Path is a brand new social network hot off the press that allows users to share photos with up to 50 friends. They don’t allow connections to other networks, and pride themselves on creating a community where members are allowed to share honestly and personally. An athlete could use Path as an outlet to add their inner circles and get their online social fix to share openly and freely without having to worry about being politically correct or doing something that may affect their image, while leaving their Twitter and Facebook pages available as engagement tools. Let’s just say Michael Beasley sure could have used Path to show off his new tats.
The revamped Facebook groups is another tool that encourages small, tight knit groups. As of right now, Path has plenty of limitations with no commenting and only allows pictures to be posted through their iPhone app. Facebook groups is a full fledged group network with commenting, photos, link sharing, and email notifications. In a private Facebook group with all his buddies, Charlie Villanueva could talk about fighting Kevin Garnett all he wants in any language he wants without looking like an immature attention seeker.
In part two, I’ll talk more about other creative ways to using ‘exclusivity’ to enhance an athlete’s brand.
What do you think of athletes having their own ‘space’ online like Path and Facebook Groups? Will it help in providing less PR headaches? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.
Image by keithallison